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Comment Re:underlines! (Score 1) 202

I've been using Linux exclusively for about 13 years. To me, 2003 was the year of the Linux desktop, and then every year since then.

Just because it hasn't achieved the popularity of Windows or OSX, doesn't mean it isn't just as capable (I've used a MacBook Pro for 4 years at work, and I still haven't been persuaded to make the switch at home). I installed it on my mother's ageing laptop a few years ago, and she's been pretty happy using it since then.

Comment Re:Best Linux Distro (Score 1) 224

Mint is what I've been using for probably around 7 years now (can't remember exactly). Before that it was Ubuntu, and before that Gentoo and a couple of other things as I tested the water.

It's not perfect (no OS is), but I feel really comfortable using it, there are usually minimal surprises when upgrading, and I'm not afraid to recommend it to other people interested in trying Linux.

Comment Re:No. (Score 1) 857

You make a lot of good points there, and I mostly agree.

WRT truth: yes there's a difference between lying and being mistaken, but in general I'd rather that most things that a politician says are true, regardless of motivation.

And yes, while I'd rather see Hillary in charge over Trump, I still think she should be held to the same high standards of any other president.

Comment Re:No. (Score 1) 857

Hillary has been under investigation for years now, thanks to the Republican party. And she's been largely or completely exonerated every time her enemies have had her investigated, which has been every time they thought they could get away with it.

Sooner or later they're going to have to either accept that she hasn't, in fact, done anything noteworthy, or that she's just too good an opponent for them.

Comment Re:No. (Score 1) 857

Ah, so your argument is "I'm not biased, you are!"

As I said, I'm not going to rely on what friends say, or my own prejudices, and I won't claim to know from the debates which statements were true and which weren't. So I'm citing Politifact, an independent fact checking website. They found that Hillary was the second most honest politician among the various presidential hopefuls. Who do you cite?

Comment Re:No. (Score 1) 857

Actually Hillary is pretty honest. She's been scrutinised thoroughly by various new watch dog groups, and came out more honest than even Bernie. Politifact put her 2nd after Obama, while Trump came up number 1 most dishonest.

Also the evidence suggests that she's not owned by Wall Street. She's voted for some pretty tough regulations on Wall Street, and her campaign line is that she's aggressively tackling Wall Street corruption. Even Bernie, who campaigned on the idea that she was in Wall Street's pocket, wasn't able to find any good evidence to back that up.

I think too many of us were enthused by Bernie and that didn't translate into enthusiasm for Hillary, so we've not done enough to clear her. She's had a lot of stuff thrown at her that doesn't survive close scrutiny.

Comment Scottish so can't vote but... (Score 1) 993

If I could vote, I'd vote Jill Stein & Green. I don't agree with her on everything, but she's my favourite among the lot. That said, the US needs to get a decent voting system and ditch First Past The Post. FPTP as a system of casting votes is no longer fit for purpose, and more of a hindrance in the path of democracy than a vehicle.

You need a system that offers ranking, so you can vote for who you want, not against who you don't, and can stop thinking about voting tactically. It's awful that people have to vote Democrat, simply to stop the Republicans, or risk splitting the vote. If you could say "Jill Stein, but if she fails then Hillary", that would be so much more satisfying.

You need proportional representation (PR), so that everyone is represented according to their proportion, and vote fixing tactics like gerrymandering no longer matter. More importantly, every vote would matter. PR doesn't have to be nationwide, it can offer huge benefits just from amalgamating 4-9 local voting districts.

Also stop thinking in terms of two parties. Have many smaller parties. Have a minority government that has to work together and agree on things to make changes, rather than be able to push things through simply due to a majority (which currently doesn't even represent half the population). Sure, you'd get a few extremists in (who represent the extremists in the country), but they still wouldn't have carte blanche to push through their extremist policies, and maybe then you wouldn't have extremists who thought their voice wasn't getting hurt, and deciding to take a more violent approach to getting their message across.

The Scottish government, is about to start debating whether we should move from AMR to STV. We have a popular minority government, and we're sitting down and discussing how to improve the mechanics of democracy even further. How cool is that?

Comment Re:Thanks to (Score 1) 369

A minute or two to fix a post would be handy, because frequently the only problem is something trivial like misspelling a bit of code so it doesn't work, a stray apostrophe, you've lost your paragraph structure, or noticing that your phone's autocorrect has tricked you. I know there's preview, but still.

It's not like you're typically fundamentally rewriting the whole thing, just fixing a few misplaced characters to sort out a broken post. It could make the whole board look a lot tidier too.

Replying to your comment to correct an ambiguity or link or something often looks untidy, and the reply won't always get the same visibility as the original comment.

Comment Re:Antibiotic abuse and biodiversity (Score 1) 203

Depends on the strain (some produce some really nasty toxins), and who's getting it. Some E. coli is harmless, and lives commensally in your gut, helping you digest your food.

On the other hand, enterohaemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7 (EHEC) can give you acute kidney failure, and has killed children and old people whose immune systems weren't strong enough.

Comment Re:These were already solved... (Score 1) 349

I started using Linux on my desktop full time back in 2002. I've currently got the latest Linux Mint installed, and it's a dream to use. When I started using a Mac for work in 2012, I found the OS rather frustrating to use, and have done much tinkering to make it more like Linux again.

As far as I'm concerned, either Linux has been ready for the desktop for a very long time already, or being ready for the desktop is some unattainable status that so far no OSes have managed.

Comment Re:SecureCRT (Score 1) 352

I find OS X's window manager quite clunky, and I appreciate being able to Opt-Space to pull down an iTerm2 on any desktop, especially as you can open any file with Cmd-Click, I'm faster using iTerm2 than with the Finder.

However on Linux (Mint Cinnamon, which I like very much), I just type Super-A, and a terminal pops up wherever I am, so I don't need the Quake-style drop-down. I don't use Windows, so I don't have a solution there.

Comment Re:When my games stop working on Win 7, maybe (Score 1) 272

I am very much in the same situation as you. I use OS X and Linux at work, Linux Mint at home, and I have an (also legit) Win7 install for certain games (although I haven't booted into Windows since December, which tells you how often I actually use it).

I've heard from the tech guys at work that Win10 is going to make their lives a lot easier, and that it's actually looking quite good under the hood, which I do like the sound of.

I might at some point upgrade... but not until there's a pressing need.

Comment Modelling (Score 1) 1067

I work as a mathematical epidemiologist, modelling disease spread in populations. In my work there are three cases when I encounter divide by zero.

1) Disease transmission. Say you have two types of individual, susceptible and infectious, the numbers of which are given by S(t) and I(t), and the total population size is N=S+I. Diseases typically transmits at a rate beta*S*I/N, where beta is the transmission coefficient. What happens when N=0? In this case we want the transmission rate to also be 0.

2) Poisson distributed random numbers. When events happen randomly at rate lambda, the number of events that occur in a time interval dt is n~Poisson(lambda*dt). When lambda=0, you'd always expect n=0. Strictly speaking the Poisson distribution isn't defined for lambda=0, but the limit as lambda->0 is indeed 0. The GNU Scientific Library, Octave, Matlab, and R all return 0 for Poisson(0), however Julia and Numpy both return an error.

3) Adaptive tau leaping. If you aren't using fixed tau leaping, then you need to work out how big a time step you can safely take, which requires bounding the relative change in a variable. This is done by dividing the variable size by the expected change in that variable, and finding the time step tau, repeating for every variable, and taking the smallest time step you get. In this case, it is entirely possible that the expected time step is zero, say when the population is at equilibrium. This doesn't mean that nothing is happening (you should also check that the variance is bounded), and so here you absolutely need that divide by zero is infinity, and that infinity is greater than any other number you might find.

The first two cases are actually undefined (0/0 is mathematically undefined, since you get different answers depending on how you approach the limit), but the desired outcome is clearly zero. The third case is either 0/0 or x/0, but either way you definitely want to interpret the result as infinity.

In my situation, I just wrote a small function called div0, which I use whenever I expect a divide by zero to occur, and know that I want to interpret that as zero, not infinity.

Comment Re:Meh (Score 1) 830

As a mathematician and scientist living in Scotland, I lament our use of decimal. Counting in base-12 would have been considerably more useful. Frankly I think we divide by 5 far less often than we divide by 2, 3, 4, or 6, and only one of those gives a round number in decimal. As for the convenience of having 10 fingers, we also have 12 finger segments, allowing us to count to 144 (100 in base 12) on our fingers.

But then imperial measurements are often not based on units of 12. There may be 12 inches in a foot, there are 3 feet in a yard, 16 ounces in a pound, 14 pounds in a stone, 20 ounces in a pint, 8 pints in a gallon, gods know how many feet in a mile, 3 miles in a league... and I only know a few of those without looking them up.

Really, basing everything around one number is such a convenience, even if those numbers aren't always wholly convenient for having day-to-day things ending up in integer numbers.

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